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How the Bundestag deals with Corona: back to the home office – politics

Amira Mohamed Ali thinks the way the federal government has handled the Ceta free trade agreement with Canada fundamentally wrong, and she told the Federal Constitutional Court on Tuesday. This is not surprising, given that the left-wing faction has sued the lawsuit.

On the other hand, it was not at all self-evident that the group leader could appear in Karlsruhe at all. Mohamed Ali arrived with obstacles. Because it came from a post-Corona hotspot: German Bundestag, Platz der Republik 1, Berlin-Mitte.

Since the pandemic imposed its rules on the entire world, it has also changed the lives of the 10,000 or so people who work as MPs or employees, in administration or as service providers in parliament.

This has not seriously disrupted business operations so far. “The Bundestag can work,” said Britta Haßelmann, as Parliamentary Director, the Corona Commissioner of the Greens. “This has a lot to do with the fact that all political groups – except one, with whom it has always been difficult – work very closely.”

The AfD is meant by the runaway. The right-wing group opposed Corona measures from the start. The mask requirement in all parliament buildings, imposed by Bundestag president Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) as head of the house, when appeal failed, wants to bring them to court.

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AfDler now adheres to the rules

Nevertheless, it is reported from other parliamentary groups that AfDlers have now complied with the rule. The Bundestag police did not have to intervene. From the following week of the meeting, the impending fines for violations must be enforced.

In fact, the Bundestag has weathered the pandemic well so far. A total of 37 cases of infection are known. Perhaps, one of the administration says, there are also a few more: “That’s based on trust to some extent.” But the size is correct.

Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), President of the Bundestag Photo: Michael Kappeler / dpa

Most of the infections are probably the result of contacts outside parliament. This partly explains the mistreatment by which union politicians have declared the corona policy of the Berlin Senate, which is perceived as too lax. In addition to party political motives, some people were concerned that their own people would fall victim to unbridled festivities in the capital.

To prevent it from becoming a hotspot itself, Parliament has set up its own reporting system since March. Members of Parliament and staff report positive tests and suspected cases to the internal service of their group; he then reports to the director of the Bundestag. “That does not stop at fraction boundaries”, says the Greens Haßelmann.

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Any contacts will be informed and warned. They don’t know who could have infected them. A parliamentary spokesperson assures us that data and privacy protection will be strictly enforced. Everyone who has been informed can then decide for themselves whether to go into quarantine or to test.

Many employees are rarely there anyway. Teams alternate in areas that cannot work well at home. At the FDP they point out that the group was already fully prepared for digital work before Corona. The others quickly learned it out of necessity.

It’s getting emptier

Since the second corona wave is threatening to build up, the offices and conference rooms around the Reichstag have become emptier again. After the smooth summer vacation, many working groups met in person – remotely, with a mask, but at least. Even in many offices there was light again at night.

But now it’s called: command back. Last Tuesday, the Green group decided not to use the large CDU / CSU meeting room and preferred to meet virtually. Many MPs send their employees back to the home office. Nevertheless, for the first time, MPs are facing obstacles to their work. Not because they are MPs. The problem is where you work: the Berlin hotspot.

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Mohamed Ali experienced that specifically. The left wanted to come to the constitutional court the day before the hearing. But Baden-Württemberg has interpreted the residence ban very strictly. Other countries only prohibit tourists from internal German corona hotspots to stay overnight. The state government in Stuttgart is closed to everyone.

Even the exemption for parliamentarians, for example Schleswig-Holstein, Rhineland-Palatinate or the otherwise very strict Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, does not exist in the southwest. The left party leader had no choice but to be tested quickly. Her colleague Andrej Hunko had it much easier: his hometown Aachen was not on the official hotspot list of the Robert Koch Institute on Monday.

In any case, the court recognized the problem: it postponed the hearing for two hours until 12:00. But even a champion for strict rules like the Greens Haßelmann, federal rules go too far. “You need clear criteria for acceptance,” she says. “As it is now, no one can see through it anymore.”

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